No, I Won’t Think Differently About Politics When I’m Older

The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

Content warning: gun violence

If you're a Gen Z student (or even a millennial), there’s a good chance that you have different political views than your conservative, older relatives or family friends. And if you’ve ever found yourself in a conversation centered around politics, especially in our current political climate, someone has probably said something to you along the lines of, “You’ll think differently when you’re older and your views will change.”

I can’t even count the number of times someone has said this to me, and I find it to be one of the most insulting things you can say to an educated, politically active young adult. 

When you say that I’ll think differently about politics when I'm older, what you really mean to say is, “Once you start making your own money, you’ll want to vote for Republicans, who will protect your personal wealth.” This implies that I only care about my liberal views for the social benefits, because I’m young and frivolous without a care in the world. And sure – it’s possible that some of my views will change as I grow older, but when you consider everything that our generation has lived through, it becomes clear why we would value liberal stances on both social and monetary issues. 

Many of us were born just before or shortly after 9/11, as our country was thrust into one of the longest and most expensive wars in U.S. history. In a post-Columbine world, we had active shooter drills once a month at school that seemingly did nothing to stop the number of mass shootings that grew throughout our adolescence. We could only sit by and watch as the housing market crashed and our parents lost their jobs to the 2008 recession. And throughout all of this, we’ve seen women, members of the LGBTQ+ community, and Black community fight for basic human rights from a system that has always been against them.

We were born into, and have grown up, in a world plagued by economic uncertainty and social disruption.

Does that mean that I automatically agree with every Democratic, liberal or “far left” policy? Of course not. I’m sure that registered Republicans don’t align with every platform that Republican candidates run on. Neither party, or way of thinking, is free from valid criticism. But if you consider yourself to be “socially liberal and fiscally conservative,” and you’re able to cast your vote solely based on how it will affect you, your money, and your taxes — that’s privilege.

So, how do I respond when people say to me, “You’ll think differently about politics when you’re older"? Simply put, I say something along the lines of, “I will always care more about other people’s health, safety and equal opportunity than my own money.” And I'll follow it up with, “I don’t know how to explain to you that you should care about other people.”